Iraq aims to increase its oil reserves to 270 billion barrels and overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's top reservoir, Oil Minister Amer Rashid was quoted Saturday, August 3, as saying.
"By transforming potential reserves into proven reserves, Iraq will occupy the top position in the world with 270 billion barrels and overtake Saudi Arabia," Rashid said in a government daily, Al-Jumhuriya.
"To achieve this objective, we must step up efforts in oil prospecting in Iraq," the minister said.
Iraq's proven reserves currently stand at 112 billion barrels, leaving it in second place behind Saudi Arabia, whose reserves are estimated at 261 billion barrels.
According to Iraqi oil experts, Iraq has an additional 214 billion barrels in potential reserves.
"Studies have proven that between 70 and 90 percent of the potential reserves can be transformed into proven reserves," said Rashid.
He said the Iran-Iraq conflict in the 1980s, the 1991 Gulf War over Kuwait and UN sanctions in force since Iraq's 1990 invasion of the emirate had all hampered Baghdad's efforts to develop oil reserves.
In a separate interview, Rashid said Iraq had 74 operational oilfields, and that "several other fields which are not being used could allow Iraq to raise output to six million barrels per day", double current production.
"Several foreign companies have expressed their wish to cooperate with Iraq in this area," he told the weekly Al-Ittihad.
Iraq has signed contracts with a number of foreign oil companies, notably from Russia and China, to develop oilfields, but the deals cannot be implemented until sanctions are lifted.
Under a UN exemption to the sanctions regime, Iraq exports crude to finance imports of essential goods. — (AFP)
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